Stakeholders from private and international schools and the early years sector are spending five days in the Middle Eastern country to engage with government departments, hold policy roundtables and meet global investors.
Five British independent schools, including Chatsworth School and King’s College Taunton, have opened new branches or “satellite schools” in Saudi Arabia from 2021, following an initial trade mission that year.
Saudi Arabia is home to approximately seven million school-age children – the largest K-12 student population in the Gulf Cooperation Council region – and enrollment in private education is expected to grow significantly over the next decade.
“Saudi Arabia’s current emphasis on transforming their education system makes it an attractive opportunity”
David Rose, director of Brookes Education Group, said the school group had been exploring potential partnerships in Saudi Arabia for “some time”, including looking at opportunities for start-up schools that extend “beyond the expat community”.
“Saudi Arabia’s current emphasis on transforming their education system into a connected and creative approach that prepares their young people for the modern world while preserving their own identity, language, traditions and culture makes this an attractive opportunity,” Rose said.
The country has been identified as a priority region in the UK’s international education strategy. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which sets out plans to diversify the economy and reform its international standing, prioritizes the development of an education system that is in line with market needs.
Jamie Large, director of international education at Ardingly College, said the boarding school has been “very active” in the country since 2021 and plans to “move quickly” to open a franchise in 2024.
It comes as talks continue on a free trade deal between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council, with the third round of talks starting this week in Riyadh.